The Gift of Baptism
It is said that about 71% of our globe is covered with water. They say that about 60% of the human body is made up of water. It is no wonder why we talk about baptism every single Sunday at St. Stephen’s and use flowing water as a symbol of unity in Christ and the elements of nature. Yet, perhaps we have become a bit complacent about this because in one of our most recent dialogues many people did not realize this simple fact. Perhaps because we sometime get into the flow of things and do not realize what is happening in and around us.
Perhaps we forget how blessed we are to have three flowing bodies of water that we invoke in our thanksgiving for baptism, the Brandywine, the Christina and the Delaware rivers. We are familiar with the awesome beauty and strength of the Atlantic Ocean, and yet there are those that are suffering greater droughts than us. There are those that do not have access (and I cannot stress the word ACCESS enough) to clean and healthy drinking water. There are those that are, as I am writing this, traveling to one of our landlocked states here in America to stand with the native peoples of our land in Standing Rock. While the protesters are fighting to protect their sacred lands granted to them, they are also protesting because the sources of their drinking water will become contaminated and unsafe for consumption.
60% of our bodies are said to be made up of water.
71% of our globe is covered in water.
Why do we talk about the waters of baptism?
Could it be because the men and women that were part of the Reformation wanted us to understand baptism in an accessible way? Baptism, they say, is not just some external thing but rather, something of divine and holy origins. This is a treasure that God gives to us, through the miracles of water and the Word of God we find in our waters that we are washed by the Word. The water that we are baptized in is not magical holy water, rather it is a gift given to us by God that, through the Word of God in Christ, we are given a heavenly bath where our faith receives this gift of abundant and divine grace.
We are baptized but once in our lives, but the waters of our baptism should never be inaccessible from our reach. For when we touch the waters of baptism, waters of the font, we are reminded of the singular event that welcomed us into a community of faith believers where we are forever claimed as one of Christ’s very own. We may plunge a finger or hand, we may gaze upon the light ripples of water, but whatever we do, we do so in a place where we have access.
The people of North Dakota fighting to have access to clean water, or the residents of Flint Michigan that for so long were made sick because of lack of access to clean water drinking water understand. People of desert lands without water in sight or those on the west coast where wildfires rage because of unimaginable dry droughts understand.
As we look towards Sunday - All Saints Sunday - we will once again give thanks for our baptism. We will give thanks, that through the waters we are given life. There will be eight candles at the foot of the paschal candle representing those saints that have gone on before us into the heavenly realm this past year. We may know one or more of them, but we will none the less raise up our prayers for them and those that are still grieving their loss. We shared with them a baptism into Christ, just as we all will share with them a death and resurrection into and with Christ. In our prayer chapel, behind the piano and under the window of Christ gathering the children to him, we too can gather before or after the service and also during communion to have a silent moment to remember those that have gone before us into Christ’s embrace. We can light a candle, say a prayer, or just sit for a moment before returning to the larger assembly gather into one body, of the saints that were, are and are yet to come.
May we pray for those that are in need of access to water this day and for ever more.
Yours in Christ,